solar farm
The Alachua County Commission will conduct a virtual Special Meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 5 p.m. to conduct a hearing for a Special Exception to allow a solar facility to be built in Archer.
 
The agenda includes discussion os ZOX-01-20: A request for a Special Exception to allow a solar array (major utility) on approximately 650 acres in an Agricultural zoning district.
 
According to the agenda, Alachua County "Staff recommends that the Board approve the item and adopt Resolution Z-20-06 with the bases and conditions found in the staff report."
 
On May 26th a request by Archer Solar Project LLC (Mark Dypiangco, Agent) was submitted to the County planning office.
 
The request according to the planning staff report states, "On behalf of various owners for a special exception to permit a major utility (solar array and associated distribution lines) on approximately 650.6 acres located in an ‘A’ (Agriculture) district with a Rural/Agriculture land use designation (one dwelling unit per five acres).
 
The project is located on the northeast corner of SW 170th Street and SW 95th Avenue on parcel numbers 04588-000-000, 04588-001-000, 04588-001-001 and portions of parcels 04595-000-000 and 04631-000-000.
 
The Planning Commission held hearings on Aug. 19 and Sept. 2 and recommended denial of the items by a vote of 3-2.
 
A description of the proposed request by in the staff report reads:
"The request that is the subject of this application is for a special exception to the Unified Land Development Code (ULDC) for a major utility in an ‘A’ (Agriculture) zoning district. First Solar Corporation is proposing the installation of a solar array on approximately 650 acres, to include panels and associated distribution facilities. The project will connect to the distribution grid via an existing Duke Energy Substation located to the south of the proposed array site.
 
At maximum output, the array would produce approximately 74.9 megawatts (MW) of electricity. As a comparison, the maximum output for all plants associated with Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) is approximately 513.5 megawatts at maximum output (Source: GRU 2017 Ten Year Plan) from its four operating plants (Deerhaven #1 and #2, the John Kelly Plant in downtown Gainesville and the Biomass Plant).
 
The present application is the fourth for a solar array that has been considered by the Board. Previous applications include a small array near Paynes Prairie (Prairie Solar Facility: 1.5 MW), SYBAC Solar Facility on 53rd Avenue near the Murphree Water Treatment Plant (6.0 MW) and, most recently, an Florida Power and Light (FPL) facility on the Putnam County Border in eastern Alachua County (74.9 MW).
 
The arrays used in this proposed facility will be tracking arrays that move with the sun. Previous installations reviewed by the Board have been static (non-moving). The use of tracking arrays results in increased energy output and maximum efficiency per panel. As shown in the photo below, they are identical to those used in a similar facility that just recently opened outside of Ft. White (also constructed by First Solar)."
 
If the special exception is granted, the report states that the the power on the grid, "can serve a variety of customers including those in Alachua County. These include, but are not limited to Towns/Cities of Archer, High Springs, LaCrosse, Micanopy, University of Florida, Seminole Electric Co-op, Central Florida Electric Co-op, Clay Electric Co-op.
 
To see the agenda and bockup documents click here.
Instructions on viewing the meeting:
The public may attend virtually through Cox Channel 12, Facebook, and the County’s Video on Demand website. For meeting audio-only, call 301-715-8592, and when prompted, use code 670 965 3024. The public may submit comments to the board through email (bocc@alachuacounty.us) or by calling into the public comment message line when prompted to call during the meeting. Public comment will be taken by telephone for all non-ministerial items on which the Commission votes. Once public comment is opened for an item under discussion, please call 929-205-6099 (enter meeting code 273 174 8038). Callers will be put in a queue and prompted when it is their turn to speak. TO AVOID FEEDBACK, SPEAKERS MUST TURN DOWN THEIR MEETING SOUND WHEN ADDRESSING THE COMMISSION. The Commission will allow up to a total of 30 minutes for citizen comments on each item opened for public comment. In addition, the Commission will open phone lines for one 30-minute public comment session for the public to discuss items not on the Commission agenda. The public is encouraged to submit any written or photographic documents prior to the meeting to bocc@alachuacounty.us.
 
Any individual who wishes to participate in the proceeding but is unable to attend the hearing through communication media technology (CMT), may request a reasonable accommodation to allow for participation in the public hearing. In order to request an accommodation please call 352-264-6971 or email jhays@alachuacounty.us.

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